All Aboard the QLine!
This story is provided and presented by our sponsor.
Talk to your fellow passengers, and you’ll soon learn that there are all sorts of reasons people enjoy Detroit’s new QLine, which continues to improve operations and gain fans.
Wayne Raskind, for instance, needed to attend to business at the Renaissance Center. Rather than drive there directly from his home in Rochester Hills, he parked near Warren Avenue and rode the QLine to the riverfront.
“What I’d have had to pay to park at the Rec Cen,” said the 58-year-old dean of Liberal Arts and Science at Wayne State University, shaking his head at the thought. “Not to mention the carbon footprint.”
Or consider New Center resident Ricky Moore, 63, who wanted to visit a friend. His van wasn’t running, so he hopped on his bike and rode it to the nearest QLine station. Once aboard, he stowed his wheels on a dedicated rack while riding to his destination. “It’s much better to be here in the cool,” Moore said of the air-conditioned streetcar. “This is easy and convenient.”
The two very different travelers illustrate the simple appeal of Detroit's QLine, the modern streetcar line that travels the Woodward Corridor from Grand Boulevard south to Congress Street. It has 12 stations along its 3.3-mile route and is attracting everyone from German tourists (“It’s so cold in here!” said one woman with a smile on a blistering summer day) to 15-year-old Deshuan James, who was returning to his Midtown home after a doctor’s appointment.
“I like this better than the bus; it’s more quiet,” said the junior at Martin Luther King Jr. High School.
Forty-something Valerie Carroll was visiting from Kansas for the first time and taking an informal city tour via the QLine. “Detroit has stunningly beautiful buildings,” she said, gesturing out the windows as the streetcar headed down Woodward. “And this is a lovely line.”
In the Loop
Since opening to great fanfare in May, the QLine has quickly been embraced by Detroit residents and visitors. Ridership increased from an average of 4,000 trips per day the week of June 12 to an average of 6,300 the week of July 17. The system expects to average 5,000 trips daily during its first full year of revenue operations, which began this month.
Each day the sleek, modern QLine cars make 50 roundtrip runs along Woodward Avenue. Listen to the idle chatter of riders and you’ll hear, “So THAT’S where the new Red Wings stadium is being built!” or, “Oh, I have to go to the DIA; it’s been ages!”
The QLine runs continuously and wait times continue to decrease, with the goal of fewer than 15 minutes (and eventually, just 12 minutes) between cars on weekdays. Wait times have already been cut because rather than go the expected 60 percent off wire, the battery-powering system is operating at 80 percent, reducing the time needed for recharging.
QLine officials have been quick to add improvements wherever possible. More operators have been trained to operate four cars during non-peak hours and five cars during peak service times. Signal priority – which will turn traffic lights green so the streetcar does not have to stop – is being increasingly implemented to reduce unnecessary stops.
In another move to speed things up, cars will no longer routinely stop at each station – only when the driver sees someone waiting, and/or when a rider pushes one of the “stop” buttons located throughout the car.
The QLine continues to work with Nextbus, its streetcar arrival technology provider, to ensure accurate information is available to riders and at station kiosks.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, free rides were extended from the initial month to throughout the entire summer – news that was greeted with cheers and applause each time the conductor announced it.
Now that Labor Day has passed, QLine fares are:
- $1.50 for a three-hour pass
- $3 for a day pass
- $30 for a monthly pass
- $285 for a yearly pass of unlimited rides
Up to three children less than 44 inches in height may ride for free with each fare-paying adult (age 18 and up), and senior citizens ages 65 and up receive 75 cents off the three-hour pass.
Considering that a prime parking spot downtown can fetch as much as $225 a month, the yearly pass is an especially good deal.
You do not need to give the conductor the exact fare. Rather than change, you will receive a credit for future rides.
Tickets & Times
Tickets can be purchased on the streetcar, at each station, online at qlinedetroit.com and on the QLine Detroit Mobile App for iPhone and Android. You can also buy them at QLine Headquarters at the Penske Technical Center at 7520 Woodward, just north of Grand Boulevard. (Peek through the windows into the squeaky-clean garage housing the streetcars; even the floor gleams. Said one worker with pride, “In 25 years it will look exactly like this.”)
The QLine runs 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 6 a.m.-midnight Friday; 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday; and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
Raymond Caladiao likes to ride the QLine on his lunch break from his IT job at Wayne State University. “This is handy,” said the 40-year-old. “Before, I would bike down to Campus Martius or drive down and have to pay for parking.”
Caladiao said he’ll also use the QLine when driving in from his home in Troy for a Tigers or Lions game, parking to the north and hopping the streetcar instead of paying big money at the lots near the stadiums.
“I like this,” he said. “It’s so convenient.”
While it does a fine job of transporting people up and down Woodward, the real goal of the QLine is to spur the creation of more mass transit in and around Detroit. As QLine spokesperson Dan Lijana noted, “This is not the answer to all our transit needs, but it is the beginning of the answer.”
Tips for Riding the Q
- Seating is located to the front and rear of each car.
- If you’re standing, hold on! Starts and stops can be sudden.
- Remember where you got on.
- Put away your phone and make eye contact with your fellow riders. You’ll be happily surprised by the good vibe.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most riders are friendly and helpful.
- Visit qlinedetroit.com for details and to purchase a pass.
This story is provided and presented by our sponsor QLine.
Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.